March 17, 2010

Shade the Rocks to Cool the House

by: Doreen Pollack


Today, guest blogger Doreen Pollack talks about something we rarely think about and that’s shading our rocks and paved areas.  She tells us why this is important and how it contributes to reducing our city-wide heat-island problem and how it can keep your own house cool.


Doreen Pollack is the Garden Goddess and owner of Down 2 Earth Gardens, providing garden consultations and coaching.  Get gardening tips at monthly workshops, on her blog or newsletter.  Visit to learn more.

Driveways, sidewalks, paved patios, and rock yards retain heat longer than planted areas after the sun goes down. They act as a sponge all day soaking up heat from the sun and radiating it back to your house at night. This is one reason many densely
populated and paved areas like downtown business districts seem hotter than outlaying residential or rural areas.
This is often called the heat-island effect. You could have your own personal heat island if you have little shade and use rock to cover the ground or have a lot of concrete, brick or stone pavers for a patio.

There is no need to remove all the rock or get out your jack hammer to breakup the concrete, just plant trees, shrubs and ground cover to shade them. Ground-cover plants keep surface and ground temperatures lower in summer, as well as reducing glare. They will
also add color, depth and dimension to your landscape.

Installing shade structures, umbrellas and Australian Coolaroo shades will provide the shading effect necessary to keep the hard surfaces cool just like live plants. Live plants have the added benefit of adding moisture back into the air, cleaning the air and providing shelter for birds, bugs and lizards – all an important part of the eco-system. Additionally trees allow the air to filter through the branches, whereas some shade structures may block the air movement. It is the air movement felt over our skin that makes us feel cooler. As the air moves through the trees and bushes it picks up the moisture from the vegetation and the air feels cooler.

If you have a low-water use landscape and rock and very few leafy plants or lots of patio instead of dirt, consider using something to shade the surface from the hot sun during the time of year you don’t want the heat. Your body and your wallet will be glad
you did.

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3 Responses

  1. […] explored creating shade from a planting perspective on the Blooming Rock blog on the week of March 15, 2010.  This week, I’m revisiting the topic of shade because it’s so very important for our climate […]

  2. […] pavers with soil joints between them). We have an unexplainable fascination in our region with the blanket of rock for groundcover. Somehow, it became associated with xeriscaping. However, I can’t recall the last […]

  3. […] out outdoors. We are working with Landscape Designer Jeremy Stapleton on the front yard as well as Doreen Pollack who is helping us get free APS shade […]

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